Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Iain Rankin is continuing to deflect questions about his handling of a former Liberal candidate who was allegedly ousted from the party over boudoir photos posted online.
Global News’ Sarah Ritchie sat down with Rankin last week to discuss the scandal, along with fixed election dates and COVID-19, ahead of the provincial election on Aug. 17.
Last month, Robyn Ingraham, the former Liberal candidate in the district of Dartmouth South, issued a statement saying she was asked by a Liberal staffer not to run after photos of her surfaced online. She said the Liberal party told her to blame her reasons for leaving on her mental health.
She said she was honest throughout the application process about the platforms she used to post pictures, which includes OnlyFans, a website where fans of a creator can subscribe to their content.
Ingraham also alleged the staffer asked her if she ever “had sex for money.”
When asked if male candidates are asked if they have ever paid for sex during the vetting process, Rankin became defensive.
“I’m not aware of every single conversation that my entire team has with every single candidate, but it’s not a question that we pose,” he said.
Watch the full interview here:
Rankin also dodged a question about whether there’s a double standard for male and female candidates. He said he reached out to Ingraham multiple times and is waiting to hear back from her.
“I trust my team, No. 1,” he said. “The green-light process, No. 2, is arms-length from the leader. And I have full confidence that they are going through the right process for every single candidate that comes through.”
However, in response to a later question, he also said women have every right to do what they want with their bodies and suggested he had personal knowledge of the photos Ingraham says the Liberals took issue with.
“In this case, we knew about those types of things before the green light process even started, and I had no problem with that,” he said.
Rankin’s own past choices have become an issue for his party. He was twice charged with driving under the influence in the early 2000s, and has said that he disclosed those charges — including one conviction — to the Liberal party before he ran for the first time in 2013, and again before running for leader earlier this year.
When asked whether he was drinking the morning of the 2005 crash that resulted in the second DUI charge, Rankin said no.
Global News asked his office to clarify whether he was drinking the night before, and whether he was drunk at the time of the crash. His office refused to provide any clarification or answer any further questions, saying only that “(Rankin) answered the question.”
Fixed election dates
Rankin is also the only one of the province’s main three party leaders who did not promise to implement fixed election dates if elected.
Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada without fixed election dates.
“We just got through a third wave (of COVID-19.) If we had fixed election dates, that election would have been in the middle of a third wave,” Rankin said, adding that other provinces with fixed election dates have held elections outside of them in the past.
He said he does not believe that not having fixed election dates gives the governing party an advantage.
“Elections Nova Scotia was ready for an election,” he said. “We’re in the fourth year of our mandate. Both opposition parties were campaigning heavily before the election call.”
— with files from Sarah Ritchie